Donald Trump is running for the presidency of an America that no longer exists.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly reprised two of Richard Nixon’s most memorable rallying cries, promising to deliver “law and order” for the “silent majority.” But in almost every meaningful way, America today is a radically different country than it was when Nixon rode those arguments to win the presidency in 1968 amid widespread anti-war protests, massive civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., white flight from major cities, and rising crime rates. Trump’s attempt to emulate that strategy may only prove how much the country has changed since it succeeded.
Americans today are far more racially diverse, less Christian, better educated, more urbanized, and less likely to be married. In polls, they are more tolerant of interracial and same-sex relationships, more likely to acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination, and less concerned about crime.
Almost all of these changes complicate Trump’s task in trying to rally a winning electoral coalition behind his alarms against marauding “angry mobs,” “far-left fascism,” and “the violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats.” The Americans he is targeting with his messages of racial resentment and cultural backlash are uniformly a smaller share of American society now than they were then.
Not all of the country’s changes present headwinds for Trump. The population is older now, and older white voters in particular remain a receptive audience for Trump’s messages of cultural and racial division (even if his mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has notably softened his support among them). Fifty years ago, southern evangelicals still mostly leaned toward the Democratic Party; now they have become a pillar of the Republican coalition. And while many northern white Catholics back then might have recoiled from Trump-style attacks on immigrants as a smear on their own heritage, now “when Trump talks about making America great again,” more of them “see themselves as part of that country that is getting protected,” says Robert P. Jones, the founder and chief executive of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute and the author of White Too Long, a new book on Christian churches and white supremacy.
[Read: Trump’s blank vision for a second term]
Together, those shifts have solidified for Republicans a much more reliable advantage among white voters without a college education than they enjoyed in Nixon’s era. Like Trump, who once declared “I love the poorly educated,” Nixon recognized that he was shifting the GOP’s traditional class basis. On “tough problems, the uneducated are the ones that are with us,” Nixon told his White House advisers, according to David Paul Kuhn’s vivid new book about the blue-collar backlash in that era, The Hardhat Riot. “The educated people and the leader class,” Nixon continued, “no longer have any character, and you can’t count on them.”
Trump might echo both of those assessments. But he is offering them to a very different audience. The demographic shifts that have most reshaped politics since Nixon’s day sit at the crossroads of race, education, and religion.
From the 2016 GOP primaries forward, white voters without a college education have provided Trump’s largest group of loyalists. In the 1968 presidential election, that group comprised nearly 80 percent of all voters, according to post-election surveys by both the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies. White Americans holding at least a four-year college degree represented about 15 percent of voters, with nonwhite Americans, almost all of them Black, comprising the remainder, at just under 10 percent. (The Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz analyzed the ANES data for me.)
That electorate is unrecognizable now. The nonpartisan States of Change project has forecast that non-college-educated white Americans will likely constitute 42 percent of voters in November, slightly more than half their share in 1968. States of Change anticipates that both college-educated white voters and voters of color will represent about 30 percent of voters in 2020. For the former group, that’s about twice their share in 1968; for the latter, that’s somewhere between a three- and fourfold increase.
The change is just as dramatic when looking at the nation’s religious composition. White Christians comprised fully 85 percent of all American adults in 1968, according to figures from Gallup, provided to me by the senior editor Jeffrey M. Jones. They now represent only half as much of the population, 42 percent, according to PRRI’s latest national figures.
The groups that have grown since then reflect the nation’s increasing racial and religious diversity. In 1968, nonwhite Christians represented only 8 percent of Americans; now that’s tripled to just more than 24 percent in the PRRI study. Most explosive has been the growth of those who identify as secular or unaffiliated with any religious tradition. They represented just 3 percent of Americans in 1968; now it’s 24 percent.
Other shifts in society’s structure since that era are equally profound. Census Bureau reports show that a much smaller share of adults are married now than they were then. Only about half as many Americans live in small-town or rural communities outside of major metropolitan areas. The portion with at least some college experience is about triple its level then.
Across all of these dimensions, the consistent pattern is this: The groups Trump hopes to mobilize—non-college-educated, nonurban, married, and Christian white voters—have significantly shrunk as a share of the overall society in the past 50 years. The groups most alienated from him include many of the ones that have grown over those decades: college-educated white people, people of color, seculars, singles, and residents of the large metro areas.
Trump faces two other big challenges in channeling Nixon. One is that the crime rate, especially the rate of violent crime, doesn’t provide as compelling a backdrop for a law-and-order message as it did during the 1960s. The overall violent-crime rate increased by more than 50 percent just from 1964 to 1968, en route to doubling by the early 1970s. Robberies per person more than doubled from 1960 to 1968. The murder rate soared by 40 percent from 1964 to 1968; by 1972, it was nearly 85 percent higher than in 1964. In Gallup surveys from September 1968, 13 percent of college-educated white voters, 11 percent of non-college-educated white voters, and 9 percent of nonwhite voters identified crime as the biggest problem facing the nation.
Today, overall crime rates are much lower, a change that’s made possible the revival of central cities around the country. After violent crime peaked in 1991, it declined fairly steadily for about 15 years. It’s proved more volatile over the past decade: The violent-crime rate fell from 2008 to 2014, then rose through 2016 and has dipped again since. As Trump did in 2016, with his dark warnings about “American carnage” following the uptick in crime late in Barack Obama’s second term, he is again using recent findings of elevated murder rates in some cities to raise the specter of Democrats unleashing a new crime surge. “Despite the left-wing sowing chaos in communities all across the country … and the heart breaking murders in Democrat controlled cities like Chicago, New York City, and Atlanta, Joe Biden has turned his back on any semblance of law and order,” the Republican National Committee warned in a press release yesterday morning.
But James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said that any crime spikes this year amount to “short-term fluctuation [in] a long-term trend” toward greater safety. “We’ve enjoyed, really since the early 1990s, a decline in crime,” he told me. “From year to year, some cities see decreases, some see increases, [but] there’s no crime wave … although Trump may want to construct one—a trumped-up one.”
Though polls generally show that concern about crime hasn’t fallen as fast as crime itself, Americans haven’t entirely missed this long-term trajectory: In June Gallup polling, just 3 percent of adults cited crime as the nation’s top problem, far less than in 1968.
Trump’s other big obstacle is that racial attitudes have shifted since then. That’s partly because people of color represent such a larger share of American society. But it’s also because college-educated and secular white Americans, who tend to hold more inclusive views on racial issues than non-college-educated and Christian white Americans, are also a bigger portion of the white population. Gallup polling in 1968 consistently documented a high level of white anxiety about the pace of racial change: Almost half of white Americans said the federal government was moving too fast to promote integration; two-thirds said Black people did not face discrimination in hiring; and, most striking, a bristling three-fifths majority supported a policy of shooting looters on sight during riots. On each front, college-educated white people were less likely to express conservative views than those without degrees, but even they split about evenly on these questions.
[Read: The rage unifying boomers and Gen Z]
A half century later, racism remains ever present in America. But many more white people appear willing to acknowledge its persistence, especially in the national debate that has followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A recent Monmouth poll found that most white people now agree police are more likely to use deadly force against Black people, while CNN found that most white people agree that the criminal-justice system is biased. And although Trump has called Black Lives Matter “a symbol of hate,” three-fifths of white people expressed support for the movement in a June Pew Research Center poll. White people with a college degree were consistently more likely than those without one to express such liberal views on race, but these perspectives claimed significant support among non-college-educated white Americans as well.
Those attitudes point toward a final key difference from 1968. Back then, many anxious white voters genuinely believed Nixon could deliver law and order; but today, many white Americans, especially those with degrees, have concluded that Trump himself is increasing the risk of lawlessness and disorder. In one particularly striking result, Quinnipiac University last month found that college-educated white people were twice as likely to say that having Trump as president made them feel less safe rather than more safe. That’s a very different equation than Nixon faced: Though he may have considered “the uneducated” the most receptive audience for his hard-line messages, he overwhelmingly won college-educated white voters too, carrying about two-thirds of them in both of his victories, according to the ANES. Some recent polls have shown Trump carrying only one-third of them now.
Trump still has an audience for his neo-Nixonian warnings about an approaching wave of disorder: In that same Quinnipiac survey, a solid plurality of white voters without a degree said they feel safer with Trump as president (even though many blue-collar white people have also expressed unease about his response to the protests). In a PRRI poll last year, majorities of white Protestants, Catholics, and especially evangelicals said discrimination against white people was as big a problem as bias against minorities. Yet both of these groups—working-class and Christian white voters—will each likely comprise only about half as many of the voters in November as they did when Nixon prevailed five decades ago.
Those numbers won’t become any more favorable for Republicans in the years ahead: Although white Americans accounted for four-fifths of the nation’s total population growth from 1960 through 1968, the demographer William Frey noted in a recent report that all of the nation’s population growth since 2010 has been among people of color; the final 2020 Census, he concludes, will likely find that this has been the first decade ever when the absolute number of white people in the country declines. The shift in the nation’s religious composition is as unrelenting: Jones says that the share of adults in their 20s who identify as secular grew from 10 percent in 1986 to 20 percent in 1996 to nearly 40 percent in PRRI’s latest study. Only one-fourth of adults younger than 30 now identify as white Christians.
Trump hopes that reprising Nixon-style messages about disorder will allow him to mobilize massive margins and turnout among the white voters who feel threatened by these changes. But the country’s underlying evolution shows how narrow a path Trump has chosen. He is betting the Republican future on resurrecting a past that is dissolving before his eyes.
In private moments, Donald Trump has told aides that he rescued Mike Pence from a potentially embarrassing defeat by pulling him out of a tough reelection bid in the 2016 Indiana governor’s race and putting him on the ticket, a former White House official told me. Now it’s Vice President Pence’s turn to see what, if anything, he can do to rescue Trump from a more momentous loss—and keep alive a long-held ambition to win the presidency in his own right.
Their fates, at this point, are wholly entwined. Pence would have trouble winning in 2024 if voters repudiate Trump in November. Yet even if he runs after a second Trump term, he’d surely be tarnished by the rolling tragedies of 2020. For three years, Pence largely sidestepped Trump’s unending dramas. Not so with the pandemic. Trump pulled Pence from the bubble wrap and plunked him into a crisis, making him the head of the coronavirus task force overwhelmed by COVID-19’s relentless spread. Now Pence is forever tied to the government’s botched response. And that’s something he’ll need to defend and explain as the current campaign ramps up, and if he ever runs for the higher office he’s long prized.
“You get the Trump stink on you, it’s hard to get it off,” said the former official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely.
For the moment, Pence needs to help salvage a campaign whose prospects look bleak. Trump has made the race a referendum on him. Part of Pence’s role is convincing voters that there’s something in it for them. In the coming months, he will spend several days a week visiting crucial swing states, a campaign adviser told me. Pence will approach each state as if he’s running to be its governor, zeroing in on local issues important to voters’ daily lives, the adviser said, and he’ll try to showcase the federal grants and other benefits the Trump administration has dished out. He’ll also talk about the stakes in broader terms, if past speeches are a guide. At the president’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month, Pence predicted that Joe Biden would appoint “activist” judges, weaken border security, and harm the economy through expanded government regulation.
[Read: Trump’s blank vision for a second term]
Staff may try to recruit some surprise guests along the way, perhaps inviting former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan to join Pence on a Wisconsin bus tour, where the pair could “tool around from Appleton to La Crosse at some point,” the adviser told me. (Ryan, who hasn’t joined Pence for past campaign stops, has feuded with Trump for years, though he’s stayed on good terms with his onetime colleague Pence, a former congressman from Indiana.)
If there’s an organizing theme to Pence’s vice presidency, it’s that he must never offend a man whose emotional antennae quiver at any slight. That means he’s perennially validating a president who insists the pandemic is under control when reality screams that it’s not. Privately, he is under no illusions about the crisis, people who work with him have told me. “He never shoots the messenger,” one member of the task force said. “If you tell him something that the administration won’t like or the president won’t like, you never get the impression that he’s saying, ‘Enough of that, let’s move on to the next topic.’ He hears you out.” (Trump, meanwhile, has turned on the government’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, telling an interviewer this week that he disagrees with Fauci’s warnings about the virus and believes “we are in a good place.”)
Pence knows it’s important to wear masks; he grasps that the virus is a serious public-health threat; and he appreciates the governors who have played a prominent role in combatting the disease, the people who’ve worked with him told me. One governor’s office sent me notes of a private conference call last month with Pence and governors from both parties. Pence delivered a more supportive message than Americans typically hear from Trump, who has scolded some Democratic governors for failing to “liberate” their states. The notes show Pence saying, “We’re with you,” while commending states that have “taken prudent steps to pause reopening” because of the spike in new infections.
In public, Pence takes pains to ensure that he and the president are aligned. On June 26, at the task force’s first public briefing in two months, he delivered the Trumpian message that “truly remarkable progress” had been made fighting the coronavirus, despite a worrisome rise in cases in dozens of states.
I asked the task-force member why, at times, Pence hasn’t worn a mask in public to model responsible behavior. Is it because he doesn’t want Trump to see and take umbrage? “That’s the only reason,” this person said. “He’ll wear it in a microsecond. He doesn’t want to egregiously look like he’s opposing the president.” (Asked about Pence’s mask-wearing message, John Fea, a historian and the author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, referenced Pence’s Christian identity: “You can’t apply these scriptural ideas about loving your neighbor until you first understand that actually wearing a mask is to protect your neighbor.”)
Even if he’s mirrored the president in his public comments about the virus, Pence will campaign in his own style. Normally, vice-presidential nominees are the ones who level the most pointed attacks, while presidents try to be the statesmen. Here, the roles are reversed. Trump is only too happy to stick nicknames on Biden and question his mental capacity, while Pence—avoiding visceral attacks—talks policy and draws more substantive contrasts with Biden’s record.
Whether anyone’s listening to what Pence has to say is another matter. The bottom half of the ticket seldom decides presidential races. And, in any case, Pence is defending a record that looks more damaged by the day. The pandemic is getting worse, not better. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Three-quarters of voters believe that the country is on the wrong track.
By some measures, Pence’s undimmed loyalty to Trump has paid off. He’s one of the few senior officials whom Trump hasn’t marginalized and, partly as a consequence, his presidential aspirations are still within reach. He considered jumping into the 2012 presidential race when he was in the House, but instead chose a different office. “I counseled him: Don’t run for president now, run for governor,” says former Vice President Dan Quayle, who viewed the Indiana governor’s office as a more viable springboard to the presidency. Quayle, Pence’s friend for more than 30 years, thinks he’ll run for president four years from now, though he says they haven’t spoken about it. “He’s been an effective and loyal vice president to Donald Trump,” Quayle says. “I would think he’d get a lot of credit for that. But it’s not automatic.” (One White House official told me that Pence is “entirely focused on helping this ticket win in November 2020.”)
[Read: When a vice president becomes a threat]
If he runs in 2024, Pence will need to stay in Trump’s favor. And that’s no easy thing. His allegiance hasn’t stopped Trump from questioning his value. Inside the White House, Trump has mused about whether Pence pulls in enough voters beyond Christian conservatives, the ex–White House official told me. In reply, aides would tell Trump: “Be careful, he brought an awful lot of votes your way and if you’re seen to be turning your back on the evangelicals, you may be in trouble,” this person said. (The White House spokesman Judd Deere told me in a statement that “any suggestion that President Trump does not appreciate and value Vice President Pence’s advice, experience, and skill is simply false and complete fabrication.”)
How exactly Pence stays on Trump’s right side is something of a mystery. Obsequiousness is surely part of it. Last year, Pence gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference and in the course of the half-hour address he mentioned the president’s name 30 times—once per minute. (In his own half-hour speech at the same conference in 2015, then–Vice President Biden mentioned his boss, Barack Obama, just one time.) A European official who attended Pence’s speech told me that he was approached later by a Chinese diplomat who confided that the performance had reminded him of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, “where you had to mention the name of the ‘Great Leader’ every third sentence.”
“There’s no more loyal person who truly believes in President Donald Trump and all his accomplishments than Mike Pence,” said one senior Trump-administration aide, when I asked about Pence’s unstinting praise.
Even some senior White House officials have seemed unsure of what goes on between the pair when they talk alone. Pence tends to be reticent in larger staff meetings, former aides have told me. John Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, writes in his new book, The Room Where It Happened, that he suspected Pence “did much of his best work in private conversations with Trump.”
On the campaign trail this summer and fall, Pence could face pressure to speak more openly about the administration’s pandemic response and his own role leading the task force. That pressure will be inescapable if he runs for president. “Trump’s legacy, which doesn’t look particularly good at this point, will certainly splash hard onto Pence,” Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, told me.
At least one of his former associates has echoed that warning. After Pence won an Indiana congressional race in 2000, he would meet with Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister, and pray and read scripture together. Schenck sees two warring and unresolved dimensions of Pence’s personality, ambition and altruism, and says that one seems to be crowding out the other. “If he were to seek pastoral counseling from me, I would say to him, ‘Brother Mike, Jesus commands you to love your neighbor, not love your boss,’” says Schenck, who plans to vote for Biden, the first Democrat he’s supported in a presidential race since Jimmy Carter in 1976. “That’s not God’s command.”
A couple of years ago, Schenck sent a letter to Pence after seeing him at a swearing-in ceremony for Sam Brownback, the administration’s ambassador for international religious freedom. In the letter, Schenck cited the commandment that warns against bearing false witness. “I conveyed in the letter that that was one of the greatest failures of this administration: truth-telling,” Schenck told me. “I was trying to say to him, ‘You need to be a truth-teller.’” He never got a reply.
Like everyone else across the country and the world, China’s leaders are likely watching the contentious presidential campaign unfolding in the United States and anxiously wondering what it means for them. After their four-year rumble with Donald Trump, the Chinese should be counting the months, weeks, days, and minutes to the November election, hoping a (more pliable) Democrat takes over the White House, right? That’s certainly what Trump believes. The Chinese, he tweeted, “are desperate to have Sleepy Joe Biden win the presidential race so they can continue to rip-off the United States, as they have done for decades, until I came along!”
That’s not necessarily true. From Beijing’s perspective, while a Democratic presidency may restore a more predictable form of American diplomacy, that may not best serve Chinese interests. In fact, four more years of Trump—though likely packed with annoyances and disputes—might present tantalizing opportunities for China to expand its influence around East Asia and the world.
Of course, we can’t know with certainty what outcome China’s senior cadres prefer, or if they even agree among themselves. No candidate should expect an endorsement from People’s Daily. Still, there are clues. In a highly unusual comment, the former Chinese trade negotiator Long Yongtu reportedly told a Shenzhen conference late last year, “We want Trump to be reelected; we would be glad to see that happen.” The president’s tweets make him “easy to read,” Long said, and thus “the best choice in an opponent for negotiations.” In May, Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the Communist Party–-run newspaper Global Times, tweeted at Trump that the Chinese “wish for your reelection because you can make America eccentric and thus hateful for the world. You help promote unity in China.” Hu added that “Chinese netizens call you ‘Jianguo,’ meaning ‘help to construct China.’” Long and Hu may not be speaking for the Beijing leadership, but no Chinese official or state-media figure would risk making such statements in public if their views were taboo in the inner circle of power.
What gives? Many Americans believe (erroneously) that Trump is the first president to stand up to China. After all, his administration has slapped tariffs on China’s exports, sanctioned some of its most important companies and officials, and pressured Beijing to play fair on trade—and the Chinese want more? Sure, Beijing would much rather have avoided a costly trade spat with its largest customer. But Trump may not strike as much terror in the hearts of Beijing’s top cadres as you might expect.
“He has some gut feelings that China doesn’t like, but he has gut feelings China does not really mind,” Minxin Pei, a specialist in Chinese politics at Claremont McKenna College, told me. “He does not really see China as an ideological adversary. Trump can be persuaded if the price is right.”
[Read: Don't believe the China hype]
For China, that’s key. Although Trump has sometimes acted on political and human-rights issues Beijing finds highly sensitive—most recently, signing legislation to impose sanctions for the Chinese government’s abusive treatment of minority Uighurs—he personally has often appeared disinterested, even dismissive. In a new book, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton claimed that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping over dinner in Osaka that the detention camps Beijing was building to control the Uighur community were the right thing to do. Trump also recently admitted that he delayed sanctions on officials involved with the camps to smooth negotiations for his coveted trade deal with China.
Trump has shown similar ambivalence toward Beijing’s intensifying crackdown on prodemocracy protesters in Hong Kong. The president promised stiff penalties to counter Beijing’s latest move—imposing a national-security law on Hong Kong aimed at wiping out remaining resistance—and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has made bellicose statements and threats over the move. But Trump’s commitment to the Hong Kong cause has often seemed lukewarm. Last year, as millions marched in the city, he sidestepped supporting them, at one point even mouthing the Communist Party’s line by calling the protests “riots” and a purely Chinese matter. “That’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China,” he said last August.
Even on trade—the subject featured most often in his tweets—Trump has proved weak-kneed. Chinese negotiators deftly convinced him to push off discussion of issues most critical to American business—state programs that heavily subsidize Chinese competitors, for example—to a “phase two” of talks, which have yet to materialize. Instead, Trump settled for a narrower “phase one” deal, signed in January, that was centered mainly on large Chinese purchases of American farm produce, but included little to alter Beijing’s discriminatory practices.
Trump has done even less to contain China’s growing clout on the world stage. His administration’s disdain for international institutions has ceded influence within them to China—most notably, with his recent announcement of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization. While Pompeo has repeatedly bashed Xi’s pet diplomatic program, the infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative, as a dangerous trap to ensnare unsuspecting poor nations, the administration hasn’t bothered offering an alternative. Trump has more aggressively contested Beijing’s controversial claim to nearly the entire South China Sea by increasing the frequency of naval missions sent through the disputed waters to uphold freedom of navigation, but he hasn’t followed that up with any consistent diplomacy in Southeast Asia, and he himself has generally ignored the issue.
“China’s leadership is pretty confident that, while they haven’t won the South China Sea, they are certainly winning,” Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, told me. Preventing that will require a collective international effort led by the United States, but “you can be pretty certain that is not going to happen under the Trump administration,” Poling said.
[Read: Hong Kong is a colony once more]
Here lies the main reason Beijing may not mind another Trump term: His style of foreign policy—unilateral, personalized, and fixated on dollars-and-cents matters—has severely weakened America’s traditional system of alliances. While President Barack Obama attempted a “pivot” to Asia, Trump has taken only occasional interest in the region, especially beyond trade and his fleeting dalliances with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Beijing has surely noted that Trump has strained relations with America’s two closest allies in the region—South Korea and Japan—with his persistent and petty squabbles over trade and the costs of U.S. military bases in those countries.
That suits Beijing just fine. As Washington steps back, China tries to lurch forward. Beijing has become more and more assertive over the course of the Trump presidency. The Chinese propaganda machine is capitalizing on Trump’s woeful response to the coronavirus pandemic to mock the president and American democracy, raise doubts about U.S. global leadership, and offer up China as a more responsible world power. The Global Times’ Hu is having a field day with Trump’s struggles, pouring forth an almost daily barrage of jibes. “You have no idea how to control epidemic,” he tweeted about Trump in June. “If the grumpy America were someone in life, how nasty the person is.” In another, he simply proclaimed, “Washington is rather stupid.” China’s government, with its superior virus-busting skills, “bolstered international confidence in beating the virus,” Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom recently argued. (Though it is far from clear whether these comments are having a tangible impact on global public opinion, many of China’s diplomats and officials certainly see them as effective.)
From China’s standpoint, Trump is not so much tougher as he is different. Previous presidents tried to pressure China within the rules of the current global order; Trump prefers to act outside of that system. For instance, his predecessors turned to the World Trade Organization to challenge China’s unfair trade practices, filing 21 complaints between 2004 and early 2017 (with a strong record of success). The Trump administration, openly disparaging of the WTO, has submitted only two complaints, one of which was a response to China’s retaliation against Trump’s own tariffs. Whereas previous presidents have sought to win over other powers, notably in Europe and East Asia, with similar interests in forcing China to play by the rules, this White House has alienated much of the European Union by threatening hefty tariffs, criticized NATO, and launched personal attacks on some of the West’s most influential leaders. In Asia, meanwhile, he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact aimed at solidifying American ties to its allies.
In that sense, a president with a more “normal” American foreign policy—in which Washington works closely with its friends and stands behind international norms and institutions—isn’t good for China. The Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has already vowed to forge a coalition of countries to isolate and confront China. “When we join together with fellow democracies, our strength more than doubles,” Biden argued. “China can’t afford to ignore more than half the global economy.” That, and not Trump, is the stuff of Chinese nightmares.
Whoever wins in November, policy toward China isn’t likely to soften. A near consensus has formed in Washington, across the political aisle, that China is a strategic threat to the U.S., and there may be no way to turn back the clock to the more halcyon days of patient American engagement. “There are far fewer doves left, even on the left,” Poling, of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said. “A Democrat who comes in now is not going to be an Obama Democrat when it comes to China. That is no longer politically possible.”
Claremont McKenna’s Pei speculated that some in Beijing may still prefer a Biden victory, if only hoping for a pause in tensions as the Democrats, at least at first, focus on their domestic priorities. But the Chinese, he said, might also come to regret it. “The Trump people believe that the U.S. alone can deal China a fatal blow,” Pei said. “Democrats would likely reach out to allies to form a much more united front against China. If the Democrats succeed, China would be in a much more difficult situation in the long run.”
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Exactly two years ago today, Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be a justice to the supreme court. What followed was one of the most bitter confirmation battles in the history of the court. Advocates and citizens lined up to lobby their senators to vote no on the confirmation, deeply concerned about the judge’s record on civil rights, reproductive rights and executive authority. Kavanaugh was the least popular nominee to face confirmation and that was all before Dr Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her allegation of sexual assault.
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After Donald Trump claimed most protesters in the US were "antifa," Germany's Social Democrats rushed to declare solidarity with the movement. But which movement? And why did other politicians object?
President Donald Trump has not talked to the scientist in more than a month, even as coronavirus infections have surged in large swathes of the country.
President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to his own conduct drew fierce rebukes from Democrats and a few lonely Republicans, with calls for investigations and legislation.
Democrats accused President Donald Trump of abusing his power after commuting the sentence of his longtime confidant and friend Roger Stone.
'Make America Great Again" was the slogan during US President Donald Trump's election campaign. Now, it is being applied to four technology firms on a seemingly gravity-defying surge
Top advisers to US President Donald Trump have ruled out undermining the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US currency as they seek to punish China for infringing on the city’s political freedoms, according to people familiar with the matter.Aides at the White House and State department had weighed the possibility of limiting Hong Kong banks’ access to US dollars as a way of striking back at Beijing, Bloomberg News reported last week.But they dropped the idea after advocates could not gather enough…
President Donald Trump uses Facebook like a Swiss Army knife – to raise money, amplify his message, and mobilise voters. His rival, Joe Biden, uses the increasingly controversial social platform primarily to stick his hand out for donations.As he did in 2016, Trump is taking advantage of the social media giant’s granular knowledge of its users’ interests to target specific ads to specific people, and is doing so much more often than Biden. This “micro-targeting” allows Trump to tap into…
Polish President Andrzej Duda has squeezed past his europhile rival to win re-election, official results showed on Monday, but the narrow victory puts the populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party government on the back foot.A close ally of US President Donald Trump, Duda has vowed to tighten already highly restrictive laws against abortion and has campaigned against “LGBT ideology”.The incumbent won a new five-year term with 51 per cent in Sunday’s vote against 49 per cent for Warsaw’s…
US President Donald Trump appeared in public wearing a face mask Saturday, after long resisting, as the country broke its own record for new coronavirus cases in a single day, with more than 66,600 fresh infections documented in 24 hours.The US has broken its own record in three out of the last four days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with the Friday total coming in above 66,600.Trump donned the mask, with an official presidential seal, as part of a photo-op as he visited…
As US President Donald Trump faces pressure from rare bipartisan US congressional support for a bill authorising sanctions against officials deemed to have eroded Hong Kong’s autonomy, legal analysts are attempting to predict what exactly the American leader – who has shown a reluctance to dole out hard-hitting sanctions on China and Russia – will do next.On Thursday, the US Senate gave final approval by unanimous consent to a bill requiring mandatory sanctions on individuals found to have…
US President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his long-time political confidant Roger Stone on Friday, just days before he was set to report to prison. Democrats denounced the move as just another in a series of unprecedented interventions by the president in the nation’s justice system.Stone had been sentenced in February to three years and four months in prison for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House of Representatives’ investigation into whether the Trump…
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he will sign an executive order on immigration in the next few weeks with a road to citizenship for migrants who are in the United States illegally but arrived in the country as children.In an interview with Spanish-language television network Telemundo, Trump said one aspect of the measure will involve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the programme that protects hundreds of thousands of such immigrants – often called “Dreamers” – from…
This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Quint Forgey on politico.com on July 10, 2020.Support for US President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has hit an all-time low, according to a new survey, with a similarly substantial majority of Americans also disapproving of his response to widespread racial unrest.An ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Friday reports that a record 67 per cent of those polled now disapprove of “the…
President Donald Trump, seeking to force school districts and universities to reopen despite the coronavirus, on Friday said the US Treasury Department would re-examine their tax-exempt status and funding.Trump already has threatened to cut their federal funding and sought to eject university students from abroad.“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” the Republican Trump wrote in a tweet on Friday likely to sit well with his…
US President Donald Trump hinted he has lost interest in a potential phase two trade deal with China, the latest sign yet of worsening relations between Washington and Beijing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.“I don’t think about it now,” Trump said on Friday when asked about the possibility of another deal, adding that the US-China relationship “has been severely damaged”.“Honestly, I have many other things in mind.”Trump has touted the trade war and the phase one deal with Beijing as signature…
Joe Biden has unveiled a US$700 billion plan to create jobs and invest in new technologies in an aggressive challenge to President Donald Trump on economic policy, as the warring sides clashed in key election battleground Pennsylvania.The Democratic challenger presented his sweeping “Build Back Better” proposal, a contrast to Trump’s “America first” agenda, during a speech at a metalworks plant in a swing state critical to either candidate’s victory in November.Vice-President Mike Pence was…
The TikTok-tivists are at it again.Thousands of users of the popular video app flocked to the Apple App Store in the last few days to flood US President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign app with negative reviews. On Wednesday alone 700 negative reviews were left on the Official Trump 2020 app and 26 positive ones, according to tracking firm Sensor Tower.TikTok fans are retaliating for Trump’s threats of banning the app, which is owned by China’s Bytedance and is hugely popular in the US, especially…
Despite President Donald Trump’s sharp criticism, federal guidelines for reopening US schools are not being revised, the head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.Dr Robert Redfield said the agency would be issuing “additional reference documents” for parents and schools to facilitate the reopening and deal with safety concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But he said there would be no changing of the overall guidance.Redfield commented a day after…
The US Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a New York prosecutor can obtain President Donald Trump’s financial records but prevented – at least for now – the Democratic-led House of Representatives from obtaining similar documents.Both 7-2 rulings were wrote by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. One ruling means that the subpoena issued to Trump’s long-term accounting firm, Mazars LLP, for various financial records to be turned over to a grand jury as part of a criminal investigation can…
A series of high profile officials in Beijing have recently voiced openness about China joining a trans-Pacific trade pact abandoned by the United States in one of the first acts of Donald Trump’s presidency.But officials who helped negotiate the deal formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now the slimmed down Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), are not taking Beijing’s advances seriously.Officials differ in their rationale, with some…
White House adviser Peter Navarro said he expects President Donald Trump to take “strong action” against Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat for engaging in “information warfare” against the United States.The Trump administration is “just getting started” with the two apps, and he would not rule out the US banning them, Navarro said on Fox News on Sunday. Even if TikTok is sold to an American buyer, it would not solve the problem, he said.“If TikTok separates as an American…
BRUSSELS, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) commended China on Tuesday for its ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), encouraging other countries, especially major arms exporters, to join it.
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country -- the world's largest arms exporter -- out of the treaty, revoking former President Barack Obama's signature in 2013.
A statement by a spokesperson of the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service, said that by acceding to the ATT, China contributes to the advancement of the ATT's objectives to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and ammunition, and to prevent their diversion. Increased transparency in the international arms trade is another important objective of the ATT.
The statement added that this is an important development as a more responsible global arms trade would contribute to peace, security and stability, reduce human suffering, and promote cooperation, transparency and increased confidence. It would also create better conditions for sustainable development. The EU supports the universalization and implementation of the ATT, it noted.
The statement added that the EU encourages other States, especially major arms exporters, importers and transit States, to become State Parties to the ATT before the next Conference of States Parties, thus strengthening the multilateral framework.
Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, deposited on Monday China's instrument of accession to ATT to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, concluding all legal procedures for China's accession to the ATT.
ATT was approved by the UN General Assembly in 2013. The then-U.S. President Obama signed it, but upon opposition from the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Senate never ratified it.
Trump said in April 2019 that he intended to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory. In July 2019, the United States told Guterres that Washington did not intend to become a party and that it had no legal obligations from Obama's signature.
Michael Pack has assured Congress that VOA and its sister networks will remain independent, but critics fear he is turning them into a propaganda machine for President Donald Trump
Jeffrey Toobin writes about President Donald Trump’s commuting of Roger Stone’s prison sentence, which rewards Stone for helping the President during the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of his 2016 campaign and Russian interests.
Andy Borowitz jokes that Donald Trump has replaced Dr. Anthony Fauci on the White House Coronavirus Task Force with Chuck Woolery, the former “Love Connection” host, whom he retweeted.